Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Former steel erector led to trucking in down construction economy

Friday, August 6, 2010

Keary Nicely said his dream job is to own his own truck and drive locally.
Keary Nicely said his dream job is to own his own truck and drive locally.

Keary Nicely, of Atlanta, has only been driving a truck for four years, and he’s not looking to get out of it, although he would like to get home a lot more.

Nicely’s been driving for PTL the whole time he’s been a trucker. Formerly a construction worker erecting steel for canopies and other projects, he now drives all 48 states hauling dry freight.

“I left construction when the economy stopped,” Nicely said. “That’s why I had to do something to feed the family.”

And what a family he has to care for. Nicely is married with seven children under 14 years old, three girls and four boys. The youngest is 2 years old. His wife is a manager at a publishing company, and when he returns home about once a month she’s ready to let him have all the daddy time he can handle.

“When I get home it’s my time to baby-sit,” Nicely said. “I get to do the cooking and everything. I give her a break. We also go to the lake, go swimming, and cook out. She says I gotta pick between her and the job. It’s stressful. She’d rather me quit my job and her take care of me than me be out here. I don’t want to be taken care of. I’m a man. I’m supposed to be the provider.”

Nicely said he would go home and drive a local route, but there aren’t any jobs right now.

“When I was in construction I was on the road, too,” he said. “I’d be out a month and then home a month. Driving a truck, you’re married to the truck, not your wife. You gotta have a strong wife to deal with this.”

Nicely is obviously happy at PTL since he’s been there his whole trucking career.

“I like my company,” he said. “I don’t feel myself as just a number. My fleet manager and director I know by first name. When I call they know my voice.”

And while he likes his company he thinks the benefits could be better.

“They’re alright,” he said. “They take care of my whole family [but] I could get better benefits at a local job.”

Nicely said PTL has a local route where he could get home every night, but so far there’s not been an opening available for him.

“I don’t like being away,” he said, adding that he keeps in touch via the telephone only since they don’t have a computer at home.

For break time, Nicely said he watches television in his truck and talks on the phone. On occasion he’s been known to sightsee, having found a great place out West.

“California. The mountains, the scenery, the desert, the ocean,” he said. “It’s real nice there. Plus Colorado is real pretty.”

From the sound of things, Nicely is in trucking for the long haul.

“My dream job is getting my own truck and driving locally for myself,” he said. “I’d drive loads from docks to Atlanta and drive loads from the rail yards.”

And while Nicely had nice things to say about his company, he must be doing well by them, too, since they just put him in a brand new 2011 Freightliner.

He said in four years he’s only been stopped once for a Department of Transportation inspection. The stop was in Mississippi and he passed. He’s never had a ticket either.

Nicely said he has some issues with CSA 2010.

“I think that’s crazy to put that on our record,” he said, “if the company doesn’t want to fix it. I keep everything legal. I drive my 11 hours.”

Nicely loves trucking for the freedom, mostly.

“Not looking at four walls,” he said. “I’m my own boss and if I get my loads there nobody is telling me what to do. The freedom of not being in a factory [is what I love]. Plus I love to be paid to see the United States of America. I’m just a paid tourist. You get homesick to see the family. All your friends are now truckers because other friends quit calling because you’re not around.”       

Barb Kampbell of The Trucker staff can be reached for comment at barbkampbell@thetrucker.com.

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